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Make Your Product Compelling in 200 Words or Less: A Formula for Writing B2B Product Descriptions

by | Jul 20, 2011 | B2B Copywriting, Product Descriptions | 0 comments

Are you satisfied with how your product or service is described in print?

One of the toughest problems in B2B marketing is writing a concise description of a product or service that truly resonates with the target market. So says B2B copywriter and marketing consultant Steve Slaunwhite.

I participated in a B2B copywriting workshop with Steve in Austin, Texas a couple of weeks ago, and I must say, I agree with him. Writing product descriptions is hard work!

B2B copywriting legend Bob Bly agrees, as well. He says:

“Half the battle is explaining quickly and simply, what your product is, what it does, and why the reader the reader should be interested in it.”

The difficulty isn’t in describing the product or service and what it does. The difficulty lies in finding the right words to make that description concise, yet compelling to your prospects, so they’ll immediately grasp your solution’s importance to them. “They have to ‘get it’ instantly,” says Slaunwhite.

The key to making your description compelling to the prospect, Slaunwhite says, is to rest it on what he calls the “Two Pillars of B2B Persuasion”: Benefits and Features. As in consumer marketing, you need to emphasize the benefits of your offering, so that the prospect sees what’s in it for him. But unlike consumers, B2B buyers will want to know as much about the features as about the benefits. You need to give them equal weight.

The real hard part, though, is doing all that in 200 words or less.

But I’ve come up with a formula that can help with that. And I’d like to share it with you.

A 3-Step Formula for Effective Product Descripitions

Why a formula? Well, if you type “how to write a product description” into Google, you’ll get plenty of advice on writing product catalog descriptions for a consumer website, like But none of that will help you write a product description that’s effective with business buyers.

So since that workshop, I’ve been roaming websites of technology companies, reading descriptions of products and services and studying the ones that struck me as succinct and effective. Analyzing what made them work, and looking for common traits, I came up with a handy 3-step formula for drafting an effective product description. Here it is:

  1. Write a very short paragraph describing the prospect’s main challenge that the product or service addresses.
  2. Write a concise paragraph that describes what the product or service is, and how it addresses the challenge described in the opening paragraph.
  3. Write a another short paragraph that shows prospects what using the product or service will mean to them, highlighting additional benefits and mentioning features where necessary.

To show you how this formula works, let’s look at an example.

Putting the Formula to Work

Say you’re the marketing manager for a web-based contact management system for real estate agents called REcontact. Your target market needs a good CMS, because they need to keep in contact with clients, home service vendors and hot prospects in order to gain new listings, follow up on leads and manage their listing and closing activities. They also depend on past clients and vendors for referrals and repeat business. So they need to touch base with their entire contact list on a regular basis.

But realtors are constantly out of the office, rushing from one appointment to another. They don’t have a lot of time to organize their contact data on a PC-based CMS, and they don’t have an IT department to make sure it’s always up and running. They also don’t have patience for a complicated program that’s bloated with features they’ll never use. They need something that’s simple, and that will help them manage their contacts and their keep-in-touch activities while they’re on the go.

Your product, REcontact, is designed specifically to overcome those challenges. It’s web-based, so there’s nothing to install on your PC, and it never crashes. It can be accessed from any Internet-capable device (PC, iPhone, iPad, etc.). And all of its features are designed with realtors in mind.

So let’s say you’ve determined that your target market’s number one contact management problem is finding the time to keep in touch with their contacts on a regular basis, and to keep their contact data organized, because they’re constantly racing between appointments. Step 1, then, is to put that challenge into a very short paragraph, which might go something like this:

Your success as a realtor depends on keeping in touch. You must keep reaching out to clients, hot prospects and referral sources – even when you’re on the go – if you want your business to grow.

Notice that you haven’t really begun to describe your product yet. That’s OK. What you’ve done is set the stage for your product description, by showing your prospects what’s in it for them. This will help make your description more compelling, while allowing you to use fewer words.

Step 2 is to write a short paragraph that succinctly describes what the product or service is, and how it addresses the challenge described in the opening paragraph. So you’ll want to emphasize the product’s mobility and ease of use, as in the following:

Keeping in touch is a snap with REcontact. REcontact is the contact management solution designed specifically for realtors. It’s web-based, so you can access it from anywhere, even your Blackberry. And it’s as easy to use as email. Plus REcontact syncs automatically with most smartphones, so you never have to enter the same data twice. And you’ll always have the right number when a client asks for a referral.

Note that you’ve stated what the product is: a web-based contact management solution for realtors. Then you’ve focused on how it makes it easy to keep in touch on the run. But you’ve avoided talking about specific product features as much as possible. That’s because you want to save them for Step 3, where you’ll offer proof of what your prospects’ life will be like when they use the product, starting with those features most closely linked to the prospect’s key challenge:

REcontact has everything a realtor needs, and none of what you don’t. Activity Plans map out your communications to different types of prospects. The Email and Letter Library makes sending personalized mailings a breeze. REcontact even alerts you by email when someone fills out your website contact form, so you can follow-up immediately on new leads. And multiple team members can share the same account – with no additional licensing fees.

And that’s it.

You now have an effective product description that clocks in at 174 words. Is it perfect? No, it could still use some work. But by following this three-step formula – (1) the prospect’s main challenge, (2) what the product or service is and how it addresses the challenge, and (3) what the prospect’s life will be like while using the product – you’ve come up with a draft that will be instantly relevant to your prospect.


So, are you satisfied with how your product or service is described in print? Does it resonate with your target market? Do you have a product description writing formula that works for you? If so, I’d like to hear about it; drop me a line at If not, try this three-step formula.


Want some help with a product description or other marketing content? Call me at (+39) 011 569 4951. Or send an email to

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